Galactagogues (Supply Boosters)

A galactagogue is a substance that increases milk supply. There are herbal galactagogues, like fenugreek, and prescription medications. Before you decide to use a galactagogue, ask yourself why you think you need to.

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  • Do you think your supply is low? Many women think they have low supply when really their supply is perfectly fine. Babies — especially newborns — nurse often; they nurse for long periods of time, they enjoy comfort nursing, and they nurse for everything (not just food). As long as baby is having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, is gaining weight, and is happy, there’s no supply issue to worry about.
  • Click here to read about what to expect in the early weeks of breastfeeding  http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing/.
  • If your baby isn’t having adequate output, isn’t gaining weight, and isn’t happy, you should see a lactation professional for an in-person evaluation.
  • Click here to find an IBCLC in your area http://www.ilca.org/why-ibclc/falc.
  • Click here to find a LLL leader or group near you http://www.llli.org/webindex.html.
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The average mother does NOT need galactagogues to increase her supply. Here are some examples of situations when galactagogue use may be helpful:
  • Some working mothers use herbs to increase their pumping output, even though their supply is fine when baby nurses.
  • Some mothers with a genuinely low milk supply use galactagogues in combination with increased nursing/pumping to increase supply.
  • Adoptive moms may use galactagogues to increase the amount of milk they are able to provide for their babies.
Using galactogogues can often be, at best, a bandage, covering up the actual problem, which doesn’t get resolved and may cause problems in the long run.
  • Galactogogues may cause side effects for mother, baby, or both.
  • The quality and quantity of herbal preparations is not consistent.
  • Galactogogues cost money and time.
  • Suggesting galactogogues reinforces the notion that breastfeeding requires special stuff in order to work.
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The usual, non-herbal, non-medication methods for increasing milk supply are sufficient for most mothers. Click here to read more about Increasing Milk Supply without galactagogues.
If the usual methods have not proven sufficient and you feel that a galactagogue is needed, keep these things in mind:
  • Remember that any galactagogue will be most effective in increasing milk supply when combined with increased breastfeeding frequency and milk removal.
  • Some types of galactagogues work better in particular situations and not in others. You should be working with someone who is knowledgable in their use.
  • All of these galactagogues, whether herbal or prescription medication, have potential side effects and drug interactions that must be considered for each individual mother. You should talk to your health care provider and/or a knowledgable herbalist about whether a particular galactagogue is safe for you.

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